Saw this and thought some might be interested......
Donors sought to keep Stourbridge Line alive
By Andrew M. Seder STAFF WRITER 03/16/2005
HONESDALE -- It may be the end of the line for the Stourbridge rail excursions.
Members of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce are receiving letters this week asking for a five-year funding commitment to keep the popular train rides running. Citing a lack of grants received this year and an increase in costs, the letter urges members to pledge at least $1,000 annually for the next five years.
"I'm optimistic but this is a tough situation," said chamber Executive Director Annetta DeYoung. "It really comes down to the basic question of 'Do they want the train or not?' That's kind of where we are."
As of Tuesday afternoon, six of the 450 letters requesting support had been returned -- half agreed to pledge the money.
Funding for most of this year's excursion schedule is set but once it runs out the excursions will most likely end, Mrs. DeYoung said.
The chamber's board of directors will meet March 28 to analyze the financial commitments and to decide on the future of excursions.
The excursions bring nearly 13,000 people to downtown Honesdale annually and range from dinner theater excursions to fall foliage site seeing treks.
"It would be hard finding something to replace that," said Tom Fasshauer, owner of Arts For Him, a men's clothing store on Main Street. "It's been a very good thing for the local economy."
But he also said if the funding isn't there, the only decision would be to shut down the train.
"We'll rise above it," he said. "But it will be a real quiet place on Saturday morning (when many of the excursions depart Honesdale)."
This isn't the first time the excursions have been in jeopardy. Two years ago a last-minute grant from the Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau kept the attraction open. Last year, Gov. Ed Rendell agreed to send a $50,000 tourism grant to the chamber.
Mrs. DeYoung is writing a letter to the governor pleading for additional funding.
Sens. Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum secured a $75,000 federal grant for the rail line from the Department of Transportation and that money will likely be used for this year's trips. But once that money dries up, so too might the trips. There are 21 trips scheduled for this year but weather -- not finances -- has already canceled both of this weekend's "Bunny Runs."
©Scranton Times Tribune 2005